Eighty-five percent of jobs are filled through networking.
(Source- LinkedIn, Google)
The more connected we become, the more disconnected we often feel.
In our formative years, we partake in more activities. We take classes. Socially, we are out there. Yet- as we get on with our years and we find ourselves in the throes of our careers, it becomes increasingly difficult to network.
For starters, we don’t necessarily have the time. Here’s an anecdote for you. In 1953, Swanson & Sons came out with the first TV Dinner- a frozen meal, packed neatly in aluminum trays, heated with ease in conventional ovens. With the traditional family unit changing, as more women joined the workforce, they identified a societal need for convenience. Now, thanks to Swanson’s TV Dinners, people had extra time to spend at the office, without worry that their families wouldn’t have a meal to come home to.
Much has changed, since then. But as the saying goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” we’ve replaced TV Dinners with fast food and we are rapidly replacing TV with our smart phones.
This has also affected how we network. We work more, which- like in 1953– necessitates the proverbial conveniences, to add more time to our days, when time is so limited and valued.
We all know that online dating has become more of the norm in the modern world, with approximately 20% of relationships coming from popular dating apps and sites. And as many as 66% of Americans, according to a recent US poll, have used online dating to expand their romance networks. We have been through the Me Too movement, and in the corporate world, sexual harassment and fraternization are so widely discussed, that most simply refrain from taking risks in dating someone from the workplace. Here lies the problem: we spend 40 plus hours there in a given week. Where else do you meet people?
The same can be said for networking (of the non-dating variety). We entertain clients. We occasionally do lunch or have drinks with close colleagues- people that would have otherwise been akin to the classmate friends of ours from our school days. We get along, we have some common interests, and perhaps we enjoy their company. If we move on from that line of work or that business, we can remain connected and utilize one another, professionally, for references, employment opportunities, business proposals, etc. A network is a very strong, and underutilized resource.
Sometimes though, we work remotely or independently, or perhaps our workplace or companies simply lack the people we would like to grab a coffee or beer with. We are busier than ever, as technology had made us available whenever, wherever. Do we lack social comprehension? Or has the connected world made us more disconnected than ever?
Here are some ways in which technology has made it easier for us to network— and to maintain networks.
Of course there are old social media standbys, like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. You could also try fitting in a class, such as a second language, spin, cooking, etc. into your busy schedule.
If you’re feeling stuck, there are newer ways of connecting with people, from the comfort of—well, your phone? Applications now exist, such as Shapr, which pairs with LinkedIn, and is described as Tinder for business relationships, to help you with your networking woes. In 2017 alone, Shapr accounted for over half a million users and 3 million professional matches. Some users are open to collaboration, some to coffee meetups, and others are even looking for people to start businesses with, invest in, and even hire.
Networking is an essential part of success, and we need to make the most of it. It’s important to connect with people from different personal and professional backgrounds, and to build up a Rolodex that doesn’t just include those with similar interests. You don’t become more dynamic by surrounding yourself with different versions of you.
More stats (Source- Google):
- 72% of people say their impressions are impacted
by how someone appears and their handshake.
- One in four don’t network at all.
- 41% of networkers want to network more frequently but don’t have enough time.
Here’s a listing of some popular networking apps and websites, so that you can work on building your own professional Rolodex:
Meetup- a service used to organize online groups that host in-person events for people with similar interests. Meetup was founded in 2002.
LinkedIn. The best known networking site for a good reason.
GroupMe. A group messaging service.
Namerick. Impress others by remembering their name.
Shapr. Tinder for business relationships.
Bizzabo. A tool for conference networking.
Contxts. Makes sharing business details easier.
CityHour. Do lunch with people you just met.
By @MarkPavelich CEO The Mark Consulting & Marketing
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